Practice involves applying the content, approaches and strategies you’ve been learning to GMAT-type questions. Follow these tips to ensure effective practice:

  • Begin your practice in untimed scenarios so that you can take your time practicing how to assimilate and apply the content and strategy you’ve learned. Once you’ve grasped the application, begin working in timed settings to improve your speed.

  • You should try to build both your speed and accuracy during practice.

  • Practice recognizing similarities between problems of similar content but different format or question type and then applying the appropriate approach.

  • Practice in a focused manner until you have learned all the content required for the GMAT, then begin to integrate comprehensive practice.

  • Establish a consistent study/practice schedule and try to abide by it.

  • Make use of the practice materials made available by GMAC, including GMATPrep, The Official Guide for GMAT Review, The Official Guides for Quantitative and Verbal Review, and GMAT Focus, to support the materials provided if you take a class. Many courses include some or all of these materials as part of the class.

  • Practice realistically. Make sure your practice environment reflects the actual testing environment—quiet, with only a five pieces of blank paper and a pen. Your real test will only go as well as your practice does. As you progress toward and through your comprehensive practice, start increasing the length of your study time. The GMAT is a 4-hour test; if you only practice in one-hour increments, you will not have the stamina to concentrate for the full exam. The more comfortable you are with the “testing climate,” the less nervous and discomforted you will be during the actual exam.

  • Develop and practice your holistic pacing strategy. Pacing is a kind of holistic test-taking strategy. To be an effective test-taker you must learn to properly pace yourself. You should know for each section what your optimal pacing is, and have a sold plan going into the test so that there is no ambiguity or doubt during the test. The precise pace is different for every test-taker, but you should develop, hone, and practice your pacing on practice tests until it becomes second nature. Here is a sample pacing chart for someone who is fairly slow but accurate, has been scoring about 500 – 550, and is shooting for 550 – 620.

    Questions completed Time Left Approximate Average Time per question
    Math Q# Verbal Q#
    12 14 40 minutes 3 minutes
    24 28 15 minutes 2 minutes
    5 minutes Left check how many questions left
    1 minute left enter guesses for all uncompleted questions
  • Don't go overboard on Practice Tests. Practice tests are evaluation tools and should be used as such; they are NOT learning tools. You use tests to asses what you have learned, and your ability to apply that learning under conditions as similar to the real exam as you can make it. As such you should only take practice tests at regular intervals (every 4 to 6 weeks) during your focused preparation, and then more frequently (about once a week) during your comprehensive preparation. For more on understanding the role and interpretation of practice tests click here.

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